Forbes Article on Best Practices for Covid-19 – Acuity Partners

16 Useful Tips For Safely Reopening Offices

Mar 10, 2021,08:10am EST

With vaccines slowly becoming available and rollouts happening in several states, businesses may be in a position to consider reopening their officers, at least partially, while also maintaining some of their staff remotely.

If a business is to reopen its doors safely, it needs to remember that the safety of its workers is its No. 1 priority. Leaders need to be aware of the steps they’re taking and how they will affect employees’ health and safety. So how can an organization put employee health first while still maintaining opening priority?

Below, 16 members of Forbes Business Council suggest how businesses should best approach reopening to guarantee their workers’ health.

1. Listen, Investigate And Collaborate

Leaders need to listen to employees to make sure policies are tailored to their needs and investigate best practices. Leaders also need to collaborate and share information with other businesses, including competitors, about the handling of all things Covid-19 because the topic transcends rivalries—it’s about public health and protecting communities. – James GoodnowFennemore Craig

2. Get Employee Buy-In

Leaders who have employee buy-in will succeed in reopening their offices. The easy part is following CDC, state and city guidelines. The challenge is employee compliance. Management should create a contract for everyone to uphold. Little things such as hand sanitizer, wipes, masks in abundance, open doors and paying extra for a cleaning service will keep everyone healthy and safe. – Bob SpiegelAcuity PartnersMORE FOR YOUConversational AI Based On Nonverbal Cues Can Be More EffectiveThe World’s Most Influential CMOs 2020: Resolute Leadership In Transformative TimesIn The Energy Sector, Industry Titans And Startups Don’t Have To Be Competitors

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3. Don’t Force It

Make sure you don’t force it. Give your employees the choice and personal freedom in their decision to be in the office or continue working remotely. Strictly follow all of the local safety guidelines and regulations. Do more than what the local guidelines say and not one ounce less. Monitor the situation on a daily basis and be willing to adapt. – Sunil ThomasCleverTap

4. Consult With Each Person

It is time to redefine what a modern workspace looks like. Before the team returns to work, consult with each person. Find out what worked and didn’t work well with working from home. The past 12 months have really brought into focus people’s health, and the conversation about the return to work has to not just focus on how it suits the overall organization, but also how it suits the individual. – Annette DenshamThe Audacious Agency

5. Reconfigure The Office

We have a great downtown office near the center of Boston with access to mass transportation, shops and restaurants. This was a big attraction while we were recruiting over 100 employees to join our startup company. Before the pandemic, we required everyone to come to the office. Now we plan to reconfigure the office to be used for meetings three days a week, allowing staff the choice on where to work. – Marty FalaroWasabi

6. Approach It With Empathy

Reopening offices will require great empathy for our workforce. Team members will have different circumstances—personal health and wellness, availability of daycare for children and aging family members, vaccination status and even evolved responsibilities and sensibilities during the pandemic. Not to mention, we’ve learned some positions, though not all, have experienced even greater productivity. – Eugene SepulvedaCulturati

7. Learn Their Fears

Let technology help you keep your team safe. Ask your team what their fears are about reopening. They might give you perspectives that you have not considered. The team will appreciate that you cared enough to ask. Plus they might be more patient with mistakes since you engaged them in the solutions. Lastly, learn from these times—we are finding great lessons because of telework and Covid-19. – Debra RuhRuh Global IMPACT

8. Open Partially 

It may be a good idea to stagger the opening of operations. It also may be good to schedule different days for different groups so that employees will be at safe distance. Employees must adhere to safety protocols and office space should be sanitized frequently. Having a plan to have 40-50% of staff work from home for a longer period is helpful. – LN MishraAdaptive US Inc.

9. Ensure A Seamless Transition

Beyond ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees, businesses must remain flexible to ensure a seamless transition from working remotely to in-person. Regardless, I think some degree of remote working is here to stay. That should make it easier to put the right people on the right work regardless of location—and that’s a win for companies who’ve adopted these technologies early on. – Pamela MaynardAvanade

10. Increase Cadence Of Communication

In addition to CDC guidelines, increase the cadence of communication to keep employees informed of mitigation plans. Ensure a penalty-free environment for missed days related to exposure. Maintain honest, transparent and frequent reporting of symptoms to HR. Encourage employees to sign a “Covid Commitment Pledge” to publicly commit to following safety protocols both at work and in the community. – John KepplerEnviva

11. Lead By Example

The C-suite and above should lead by example in this situation. Making sure that you are staying on top of and actually following the CDC guidelines is of utmost importance. Yes, it is inconvenient and hard sometimes; however, we must make sure that we each do our part to maintain the safety of our employees as well as our clients. – Veena JettiVive Funds

12. Assess The Health Of The Building

Safely reopening offices requires a look inward at the health of the building itself. After months of being away, consumers remain hesitant to return to public spaces like the office. Leaders must properly manage indoor air quality (IAQ) in their strategy to support a healthy workspace and, in turn, effectively communicate their efforts and the resulting impact of IAQ to instill confidence. – Brenden MillsteinCarbon Lighthouse

13. Set Clear Rules And Expectations

Reopening offices can be stressful, but if your workers need to come in, set clear expectations. Make sure the workspace has the proper equipment to ensure the health and safety of your employees. Also, establish specific guidelines so any worker heading into the office knows the process for office entry. Additionally, implement a sign-up sheet to keep tabs on how many people are in the office. – Steve BryneEquisource

14. Have Safety Procedures In Place

Ensure that there are safety procedures fully in place, and provide adequate hygiene materials and training. I suggest that organizations have a customized sanitary and safety demo that employees should view every morning before work and wall art to help employees remember the peculiarities of the times we are in. – Kemi OgunkoyaRellies Works

15. Implement Routine Screenings

Keep your employees healthy with routine screenings that may have been skipped due to the pandemic. If we don’t catch up on preventive healthcare, employees will experience higher rates of acute illness and healthcare costs will rise. Keep testing workforces for Covid-19; lax testing will only force businesses to close again. – Sean SlovenskiBioIQ

16. Create A Dedicated Covid Team

My advice for business leaders is to create a Covid team that will be in charge of creating and overseeing all of the new biosecurity procedures. In our experience, this has worked very well, and we also included personnel from different departments in this elite team. I would also suggest separating members of the same department so they are not together in the same working area. – Joel AbboCaco Abbo Internacional SA



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